Lent seemed to be forty days of falling on my face.
As Easter approached, I found myself holding back, wishing the days would reverse and I would have the gift of more Lent. I was annoyed with myself because I knew better. The Lents that are the most intense and where I am the most faithful yield the best Easters. After forty days of extra prayer and penance, I burst with joy into an Easter that truly finds me resurrected and renewed.
This time, I wanted an extra long Lent. I wanted more time to make up for the ways I failed day after day. I wanted more time to get it right.
I walked into Holy Week and then into the Triduum with a bittersweet feeling. After such a pitiful Lent, it didn’t seem as though I deserved to rejoice in the Resurrection. At some point between Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil I became convinced of one thing: I am in incredible need of a Savior.
On Ash Wednesday, I had great hopes of competing well and running this sacrificial race for Our Lord. I wanted to do great things and to show how much I love the Lord. When I arrived at the altar of repose on Holy Thursday evening, I had to acknowledge that the Lord was the only one professing the depths of His faithful love. I desire to be a follower of Jesus and yet I quickly become like the disciples in that night of testing. I run away, I hide, and I wonder what Jesus will do with someone so small and pitiful.
On Saturday night, I sat in a darkened church and listened to the Scriptures be proclaimed. Over and over, from the creation of the world to the freeing of the Israelites, I heard of God’s faithful love. A love that hovered over the waters at creation. A love that conquered Pharoah. A love that was uttered by prophet after prophet. A love that became flesh, bore our sins, and suffered death on our behalf. A love that I didn’t earn, deserve, or merit. And yet, a love I desperately need.
I stood in line for Confession on Holy Saturday. It was one of the last possible Confession times offered before Easter Vigil. Still annoyed with myself, I waited to speak aloud my sins to the priest in persona Christi. I need this. To be reconciled with Jesus, to hear the priest say that I am forgiven, I need these tangible signs of God pouring out His mercy. Even when I fail to receive it or fail to let it transform me, I need it particularly in those moments so as to remind me that God does not give up as easily as I do.
Lent blooms into Easter and it comes whether or not I think I deserve it. Christ came and conquered death specifically for my frail human nature. He knew I could not and so He did. This isn’t to justify or make excuses for my lack of faithfulness. I will need to answer for wasted graces and misspent treasures. Despite all this, Christ came and Christ saved. He redeemed–He bought back what was His to begin with.
This Easter is a strange one. I am proclaiming a slightly sad “Alleluia!” Looking within, I see an immense amount of work that must be done in this little heart. Yet I am steadfast in this Alleluia because I know that if Christ can resurrect, He can give new life to this heart of mine. Salvation isn’t a nice gesture, it is a reality for which I ache.
“For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on me and on the whole world.”